Developer: New Blood Interactive
Publisher: New Blood
Genre(s): First-Person, Action, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 28/10/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Each year, as Halloween approaches, developers release spooky titles celebrating the scariest holiday of the year. As someone who typically avoids horror games, I never rush to pick these games up. However, this year, DUSK caught my eye. Even though I had goosebumps the whole way through, I was pleasantly surprised by the fluid controls, multiple difficulty settings, and a variety of weapons. Does this set it above the rest? Or is it a rotten trick? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Before playing DUSK, I anticipated playing a combat-focused game with little emphasis on story. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the in-depth world-building on offer. I navigated various stages throughout my journey. Each stage begins exactly where the last one left off. It made the game feel chronological, and as though I was going on the treacherous journey myself. The deep world building did not stop there. The levels were designed to show the struggle of the people living in the world. The countless corpses and cryptic inscriptions on the walls depict a world of anguish and fear.
I found myself immersed in this world but there was no requirement to listen. Even though the dialogue is not the most important element in the game, the creepy atmosphere was a welcome addition. I felt my spine tingle every time the omnipotent narrator whispered something to me. The enemies would also occasionally chant or shout at me, making every encounter meaningful. It is important to note that I typically do not enjoy scary games. Even still, I did not find the narrative elements overbearing, nor did I find that they ruined my experience. I was thoroughly impressed with the story featured in DUSK.
Key to Success
DUSK offers far more than a creepy atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay. I navigated levels with hordes of enemies, desperately searching for the exit. The levels encouraged exploration but never felt too confusing. Even though there was no map, I always knew where to go. At the same time, it never felt too linear. This was primarily due to two concepts.
The first reason the game did not feel linear stems from the various environments. I would sometimes be blasting at enemies down a cramped stairwell. Other times, I would be fighting for my life in an open field. The constant variety in level structure helped differentiate the gameplay and kept the game interesting.
The key system also made the game feel dynamic. Even though in the beginning, navigating the levels in search of the keys seemed frustrating, I quickly came to enjoy the pursuit. It was an easy way to establish backtracking through the levels. I grew familiar with the layouts of the levels very quickly, yet I never grew tired of them. The levels were intuitively designed as well. Progression was linked to fighting enemies. Many times, when I collected a key or hit a lever to open a door, enemies would spawn in the direction of the new objective. These newly spawned enemies moved me closer to the end of the level and made navigating the world easy, even without a map. The key system featured in DUSK familiarized the player with the level without feeling repetitive.
Fire at Will
As well-crafted as the levels may be, DUSK is fun primarily for combat. I thoroughly enjoyed taking out waves of enemies with my countless weapons. I could dual-wield shotguns, shoot a crossbow, and even fire mortar rounds at my enemies. The weapons were all unique, and I needed to master them all to succeed. Ammo was scarce, so to conserve my favourite weapons, I would take out weak enemies with less powerful weapons. The constant weapon swapping was a lot of fun. It kept me on my toes. It was made simple due to the weapon wheel too. I constantly swapped from melee weapons to long-range firearms, to explosives and much more. DUSK made learning the intricacies of weaponry enjoyable.
Even powerful weapons are not fun if there is nobody to fire them at. The enemies are one of the most important elements of any title. Luckily, DUSK hits the nail right on the head. There are some simple enemies and some difficult ones. The enemies are typically disgusting beasts. It is easy to want to slaughter such vile creatures. However, it is not always easy to do so. The enemies are challenging. They each are distinct, and attack in different ways. The developers of DUSK certainly knew what they were doing when they designed the enemies. One of the standout enemies was invisible. Even though they could not be seen, the developers included various tells for the creature. It was expertly calibrated. I initially struggled to find the creature, but then over time became more comfortable facing the enemy. All the enemies were well designed in DUSK.
Reasons to Return
Even if fighting such ferocious beasts seems overwhelming, there is little to be worried about. DUSK hosts a variety of level difficulties. I played through the game on the equivalent of medium, “I can take it”. The levels were not overly frustrating even though I had my fair share of deaths. I thought it matched what I wanted from the game perfectly. There are plenty of other options as well. There is an accessibility mode for players who just want to experience the game and a DUSKMARE mode for those who want to suffer. The variety of gameplay options makes the game easy to calibrate to your own taste.
The levels are also enjoyable to revisit. Many times, dying did not frustrate me because I did not mind replaying the level. Each time I played through a level, I found faster ways to complete it and knew exactly where to look for keys. Factoring in the various difficulty settings, I can confidently say that there is plenty of content to play through even after the initial playthrough. The levels are fun to revisit, there are additional difficulty modes, and there is even an endless mode. It even seems like a fun game to speed-run. There is plenty of content available in this title.
Largely, the game performed very well. I was able to perform all actions without any slowdown. However, there were a few instances of slowdown. This typically happened when there were a lot of sprites on the screen. This never ruined my experience, but it was occasionally present.
A Haunting Tune
To enhance the experience, the developers chilled my bones with their eerie soundtrack and sound effects. It set the scene perfectly. It kept me on the edge of my seat. The visuals, while not graphically pleasing, stuck to a cohesive theme. It was clear what the developers wanted me to feel, and I certainly felt it. Also, the game is very dark. There are many cave scenes where it is challenging to see, and I found this frustrating. The developers acknowledged that this may be a concern for their players and included an option to light up the rooms more. Many of the images featured in the review have this setting toggled on.
DUSK was an incredibly rewarding experience. I rarely play first-person shooters or horror games, yet DUSK kept me engaged throughout the entire experience. The developers clearly accommodate all players and still push the players who want the most out of the game. There are reasons to revisit the title after completion, secrets to find, achievements to unlock, and an engaging story even before all the extras. DUSK is a fun game.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase DUSK from the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.